In the summer of 2020, the domestic cricketing landscape could be transformed by a new T20 competition to rival the best in the world.
That was the key message in the presentations made to the first-class counties, the MCC and the recreational game today in London by ECB Chief Executive Tom Harrison and the rest of his team.
With extensive building work still ongoing at ECB headquarters at Lord’s, the delegates were invited to the Royal Institute of British Architects on Portland Place – where Harrison spoke of his excitement as “we go from our development phase to being ready to build”.
There is another crucial step in that process on Tuesday back at Lord’s, when ECB Chairman Colin Graves will ask the Executive Board to approve a change in the Articles of Association, allowing the creation of a new T20 competition with eight new teams.
If that change is approved by 31 of the ECB’s 41 voting members over the next few weeks, the building phase to which Harrison referred will begin in earnest.
"For the future health of cricket, we need to do more. Our research tells us that. We’ve got to go beyond the audiences that we’re reaching at the moment."
“So far it’s been about vision, but also about a lot of discussion, research and insight,” he explained.
“We have consulted extensively with the counties, the players through the PCA, and our other stakeholders – and with thousands of the people who we want to watch cricket.
“It’s about enhancing and adding to what we’ve already got – specifically in the Blast, which has been a huge success for our counties at a local level, and also in the 50-over Cup, and the great history of the County Championship.
“But for the future health of cricket, we need to do more. Our research tells us that. We’ve got to go beyond the audiences that we’re reaching at the moment. We need to be box office, to create that sense of occasion, to have relevance to new audiences in this country – young and family audiences – and to a global audience as well.
“All our research tells us that a new T20 competition, played in the summer holidays, with a completely new look and feel to anything we’ve already got, is our big opportunity to do that.
“The broadcasters tell us that too, both subscription and free-to-air. There’s a desire from free-to-air to partner with us on new T20, and that’s because they’re excited by where we’re taking the game. I can’t make it happen – but I’d love it to.
“Today has been about sharing that with the counties, the MCC and the recreational game. It wasn’t a great unveil, because we have been keeping people updated at regular intervals. But this was when we were able to bring everything together, and I think people were excited by what they saw. I certainly was, by the reaction, and the realisation of where we now are in the process.”
Eoin Morgan, England’s white-ball captain who will lead the team’s quest for glory on home soil in the ICC Champions Trophy this summer, spoke to the delegates about his experiences of playing in the highest-profile T20 competitions in the world – Australia’s Big Bash, and the Indian Premier League.
Mike Fordham, the T20 Project Leader who also has considerable IPL experience, also outlined some more details of the proposals.
New T20 competition at a glance
2020 – the year for the proposed new T20 start.
Eight Teams – and new team brands, to underline that this is completely different from the existing county competitions.
15-man squads – each to include 3 overseas players.
T20 Draft – teams to sign 13 of their squads in an initial draft, before completing the 15 with 2 players who have excelled in the Blast.
Existing competitions – the Blast, the 50-over Cup and the County Championship will all continue to be contested by the 18 first-class counties, as currently – with the 50-over Cup being played concurrently with the new T20 competition. That will mean the use of outgrounds for those counties who stage T20 fixtures on their main grounds – and an increase in investment in those outgrounds.
Schedule – 36 games in a 38-day window in July and August, with every game televised, and each team having four home matches – meaning they play their closest geographical rivals at home and away, and the other six teams once.
Play-Offs – For the top four in the eight-team league, to be seeded to reward the top two – as in the IPL.
Participation – Every single County Board in England and Wales will be linked to one of the eight teams – and the City T20 will dovetail with the All Stars Cricket initiative that was launched for 5 to 8-year-olds last week, with a particular emphasis on the next age bracket of 8-12. 10% of net revenues from the new tournament will go direct to participation.